Ballarat Health Services is set to be among the biggest winners in the state from the 2018/19 budget, with the Victorian government due to commit a mammoth $461.6 million investment to the Base Hospital.
In Tuesday’s budget Treasurer Tim Pallas will unveil the biggest single investment in the hospital’s history, which will create a new emergency department, a modernised acute mental health facility, an intensive care unit, a women and children’s hub, an expanded critical care ‘hot floor’ and at least an extra 100 inpatient beds.
The state government expects the upgrades will provide the capacity for 18,000 more emergency patients to be seen at the Base per year, the equivalent of 49 more patients a day. An extra 14,500 inpatients will also be able to be treated at the hospital.
The windfall investment will create 1,384 construction jobs, and once the project is complete, up to 1,000 extra ongoing full time equivalent positions. Works at the Base are expected to be ongoing for almost a decade, with a completion date of 2026.
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In a statement Health Minister Jill Hennessy said “a brand new Ballarat Base Hospital will give local families the very best health care, close to home”.
“As a major regional hospital, Ballarat Base does an incredible job. This massive redevelopment will mean locals will get the best care, from the best professionals, in the best facilities.”
Outdated operating theatres will be refurbished with modern equipment, while a new ‘hot floor’ will bring together operating theatres, procedure rooms, endoscopy suites, consulting rooms, and high dependency care. All up the overhaul is expected to allow the hospital to perform an extra 4000 surgeries a year.
The investment reflects the growing demands being placed on BHS. The service’s catchment population is expected to jump by 20 per cent in the coming decade.
Ballarat Health Services chief executive Dale Fraser said while he was still coming to terms with the specifics of the funding, the windfall investment would secure the hospital’s future “for the next 25 years”.
The job influx will also further cement BHS’ position the City of Ballarat’s biggest employer.
“We’ve been working up to complete our master plan to justify the future investment and to make sure our buildings and services are where they need to be to meet future demands, but (this investment is) ahead of our expectations in terms of time,” Mr Fraser said.
“One of the basics any community wants to have is the knowledge that if they get sick or need care then world class healthcare is available.
“We want to make sure this community has all the advantages available to any community.”